Sony Xperia P
The Xperia P is one of the better handsets from Sony Mobile's lineup this year. The smartphone has a great build quality and the WhiteMagic display is one of the best displays you can use outdoors.
|The good||Beautiful design and brushed aluminum chassis; good build quality; bright 4-inch display; above-average camera.|
|The bad||Runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3); non-removable battery; lack of expansion slot; suffers from "death grip".|
Announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, the Sony Xperia P was one of two handsets announced at the tradeshow. The other is the Xperia U and together with the Xperia S, these three handsets feature Sony's NXT design. This means that all three handsets look pretty similar--you'll note the flat front screen and curved back, as well as the transparent lighted band located at the bottom.
DesignCompared with the Xperia S, the slightly smaller Xperia P seems much easier to hold, and the brushed metal feels good in our hands. The 4-inch display also makes the P usable with just one hand, while size-wise, the smartphone is just slightly wider than Apple's iPhone 4S.
Unlike the Xperia S, the P does not come with plastic covers for its ports. The rear cover is also non-removable. This is no big loss, since the removable rear of the Xperia S only lets you access the microSIM card slot; the Xperia P's uses a slide-out microSIM tray located on the left side instead, and is a more elegant solution.
Located above the microSIM tray are the micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports. On the top is where you'll find the 3.5mm headphone jack, and finally, on the right are your power, volume and camera shutter buttons. We note that the handset's speakers are located on the right--an interesting design choice, to be sure.
The handset sports a 4-inch qHD (960 x 540 pixels) display, and comes with Sony's new WhiteMagic display. Sony claims the display is bright enough that you can view the screen comfortably even in direct sunlight. We found this to be true, when we used the phone outdoors-- we had no issues reading on the Xperia P's bright display.
The P features the same transparent lighted band at the bottom, and has the three icons for Back, Home and Menu. Instead of the Xperia S's annoying button placement (the keys are located above the icons), Sony has made the P's buttons on the lighted strip itself, which makes so much more sense.
Weighing at 120g, the Xperia P feels light enough in our hands, though its 10.5mm depth means it is much thicker than most phones. Lastly, the handset comes with a non-removable 1,500mAh battery.
FeaturesUnlike the smaller Xperia U, Sony has included built-in NFC for the Xperia P. This will allow you to make full use of the Xperia SmartTags the company is touting. These programmable NFC tags will allow you to quickly launch apps and services by simply tapping your Xperia P onto the tag. However, no SmartTags are included in the package. See our Xperia S review for more about this feature.
Other connectivity features include HSPA, Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. The handset comes with 16GB of onboard storage, though only 13GB is available for use.
The Xperia P does not come with the latest Android operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) at launch. Instead, it runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but Sony has promised that an update for the handset in the future.
That said, Sony has added tweaks to enhance the user experience. Like in Android 4.0, you can create folders by dragging apps on top of another and the company has also added notifications for messages on the lock screen (you can also slide the message to unlock your handset and jump straight to reading it.
The 8-megapixel camera uses Sony's Exmor R, which is a backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor. There was no shutter lag. The Xperia P's shutter button also lets you take a picture even if your phone is locked by holding down the button, which launches the camera app and immediately snaps a picture. We note that the white balance isn't adjusted properly when you use this feature. The shot after that will look better as the handset would have some time to adjust correctly. However, that takes away from the immediacy of this feature.
We found images taken by the Xperia P's camera to have lots of detail, but colors do seem a little washed out. In low-light situations (and with flash turned on), there still seems to be quite an ample amount of noise. For a midrange handset, the Xperia P's camera seems above average in our books.
PerformanceWhile it does not have a quad-core processor as we've seen in the latest high-end smartphones, the Xperia P's dual-core 1GHz processor was more than sufficient to keep things running smoothly.
The smartphone lasted us for a day at moderate usage, and that's on top of our usual test settings with two Gmail accounts, Facebook as well as Twitter set on push. It may be a good idea to carry around a battery charger, especially since you won't be able to swap in a spare battery if you run dry.
Lastly, there's no issue with voice quality and call reception. However, there seems an attenuation issue when it is used indoors. When the phone is gripped with the palm touching the back (see below), the signal bars seems to fall off, but we note that you're still able to make calls but data is affected--web pages' loading time slowed down to a crawl. The speaker located at the right side was loud enough to be heard, and we didn't think the location affected the quality of the audio.